With the Somali Transitional Federal Government currently in control of Mogadishu, what’s the mood in the capital city?
To find out, VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua spoke with Ali Iman Sharmarke, managing director of VOA affiliate station Radio Horn Afrik in Mogadishu.
“The city’s very quiet. It has been that way for the last six days. However, there is a lot of anxiety about the decision of the federal government to collect weapons. Yesterday (Thursday), they said the deadline to turn in the weapons voluntarily ended. On Saturday, they will start to collect the weapons by force. And people’s response is to buy more weapons rather than give up what they have, which indicates the people are expecting the worst, which is more fighting to take place in Mogadishu,” he says.
Sharmarke says there have been some incidents of looting in the city and four or five killings in the last six days. “But it is more quiet than we were expecting,” he says. As for the Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu, he calls them passive and disciplined at this time. Some residents did throw stones though upon their initial arrival.
Sharmarke describes the planned attempt to collect weapons in Mogadishu as “a recipe for disaster if they try to collect them by force.”
He says, “People have weapons for different reasons. The business community has a lot of weapons to protect their property. And the federal government didn’t put in place any mechanism to replace the security of the business community. So the business community has to protect their property.”
Others, he says, want to hold onto their weapons because their fear a return of inter-clan warfare. And there are those who use their weapons to extort money from average citizens.